On a pitch that had plenty of life in it for the pacers, Elgar put up his best performance in the series so far as he carried his bat to help South Africa post 311 in their first innings.
After reaching the three-figure mark on Thursday, the Proteas opener added 20 more to his total before Morne Morkel’s dismissal ended the innings. Here, we analyse the performance of the southpaw against the Aussies.
DELIVERIES FACED: 284
RUNS SCORED: 141*
After losing his opening partner Aiden Markram for a golden duck, the left-hander started in circumspect fashion as he blunted out the new ball before upping the ante and stitching together vital partnerships with Hashim Amla and then AB de Villiers.
Pat Cummins triggered a middle-order collapse from the Proteas with a devastating four-wicket burst but Elgar soldiered on in resolute fashion before notching up a superb 11th Test hundred. He remained unconquered after a 434-minute long vigil to frustrate the Aussie bowlers.
Elgar was a picture of concentration at Newlands after some soft and uncharacteristic dismissals earlier in the series. He was watchful at the start, beginning in preservation mode before breaking the shackles with a flowing boundary through the covers off Josh Hazlewood in the 54th delivery he faced. What was most impressive was how he dealt with the spin threat of Nathan Lyon which had resulted in two caught and bowled dismissals earlier. He was positive against the off-spinner throughout, not giving him time to settle down with an attacking line.
@deanelgar well played champion !!!!
— Faf Du Plessis (@faf1307) March 22, 2018
There was hardly a foot, or bat, that Elgar put wrong at Newlands both on Thursday and on Friday. When the gritty opener is at his stubborn best, it is hard to break him down. He copped a couple of blows on his body from the Aussie pacers early on into his innings but was otherwise at ease for the most part. He was however dropped by Lyon having just reached his fifty after playing a rare loose shot.
— Standard Bank SA (@StandardBankZA) March 22, 2018
ELGAR ANNOUNCES INTENT AGAINST LYON
Having struggled against the Australian spinner in the past two Tests, Elgar was determined not to fall into the same hole at Cape Town. In Lyon’s second over, the left-hander drove him through the covers with aplomb for a boundary. In his next over, he first charged down and smashed the ball over mid-on for a boundary before doing the same with the next delivery, this time for a six.
— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) March 22, 2018
Elgar had just notched up his half-century when he offered a chance to the Aussies that should have been taken. Batting on 53, Elgar slashed a Hazlewood delivery towards point where Lyon dropped a straightforward chance. Steve Smith then dropped a tough chance at second slip when the opener drove Mitchell Starc uppishly while batting on 87. Both reprieves would prove costly for the visitors.
CENTURY NO 11
Batting in the nineties, Elgar drove Mitchell Starc through the covers for four before notching up his century with an agricultural slog over mid-wicket. Elgar screamed in delight as he ran down the pitch before punching the air and holding De Villiers in a tight embrace.
CARRIES THE BAT YET AGAIN
With Morkel the last South African batsman to be dismissed, Elgar became the first player in history to carry his bat twice in the same year after his effort in the preceding Test series against India. He also became the second man in history to carry his bat in three separate instances after West Indies great Desmond Haynes.
Dean Elgar (121*) on course, to become the second opening batsman in Test history to carry his bat thro’ a completed innings for the third time. Only West Indian Desmond Haynes has done this three times in Tests!#SAvAus
— Mohandas Menon (@mohanstatsman) March 22, 2018
To carry one’s bat for the second time in a year is no ordinary feat, especially against a potent Aussie bowling attack. To come back so strongly after his disappointments in the first two Tests shows the steel Elgar is made of. It will go down as one of his finest Test hundreds. His non-flashy and dogged technique means the South African does not always get the credit he deserves but he is proving to be one of the finest openers ever to play for the country.
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